Third candidate joins McAllen District 4 field

McALLEN — Two days before the filing deadline, a retired Southwest McAllen man submitted paperwork to run for the District 4 Commission seat being vacated by longtime Commissioner Aida Ramirez.

Joe Anthony Califa, 60, will compete against 30-year-old attorney Tania Ramirez and Mario de León, a 41-year-old solutions consultant for Apple. Califa’s only listed “retired” as his occupation on the documentation he filed with the city secretary’s office on Wednesday. Califa, who has lived in District 4 for 20 years and in Texas for 38, did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

The three-candidate field now matches the three candidates running for the District 5 seat. The incumbent commissioner in that race, John Ingram, has been on the commission since 2005, and he is facing challenges from Victor “Seby” Haddad, a banker and business owner, and Mark R. Murray, a South Texas College professor.

The third and final city commission race on the May 4 ballot is for Commissioner Veronica Whitacre’s District 6 seat. Whitacre has not received an opponent, and Friday is the final day for candidates to file.

The District 4 seat has not changed hands for most of the 21st Century. Ramirez, the first Hispanic female city commissioner in McAllen, won the District 4 seat in a special election in 2001.

“It is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement,” Ramirez said in a prepared statement to The Monitor last month, thanking the citizens of her district for allowing her to represent them.

On Tuesday, at the annual State of the City address, Mayor Jim Darling thanked Ramirez for her years of work and friendship.